What the Hole Is Going On?
December 28, 2020 11:32 AM   Subscribe

 
Plenty of dried bucatini in the Tigard, Oregon Fred Meyer yesterday. Anyone want me to pick them up some?
posted by Gadarene at 11:45 AM on December 28, 2020 [9 favorites]


I’ve always been satisfied with spaghetti (angel hair, specifically) but based on this article I’m going to seek out and try some bucatini. And since there’s a shortage I’m going to do the prudent thing and buy as much as I possibly can!
posted by TedW at 11:55 AM on December 28, 2020 [22 favorites]


And now there's going to be another bucatini shortage.
posted by suelac at 11:55 AM on December 28, 2020 [26 favorites]


all other dry pastas might as well be firewood

They should try boiling the pasta until it's soft.

(I find bucatini a little too bulky and chewy for my preference; and I'm not convinced the hole absorbs any sauce. To each their own.)
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:59 AM on December 28, 2020 [5 favorites]


Carl’s contact did not reply, and when I called them, their phone number did that fuzzy-dial-up thing where it sounded like someone signing into AOL in 1995.

I think it's hilarious that this reporter is too young to recognize the sound of a fax machine.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 12:00 PM on December 28, 2020 [134 favorites]


That article was a real journey! Coen Brothers indeed.

As for bucatini...well, I’ll just quote myself:

When I was about eleven my mother injured her hands and I was in charge of the cooking while she healed. I was super excited about this! I went shopping with my dad, who does not know much about cooking, and picked out bucatini (super thick spaghetti with a hole down the middle) because it looked cooler than regular spaghetti. I swear I followed the cooking directions to the letter, but I ended up with pasta that had the consistency of Twizzlers. No winding that stuff around your fork. Everyone just sighed and prayed my mother would get better soon.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:04 PM on December 28, 2020 [12 favorites]


I’ve always been satisfied with spaghetti (angel hair, specifically) but based on this article I’m going to seek out and try some bucatini.

It's kind of the opposite of angel hair. The antipasta, if you will.

Hope they're right and the shortage ends soon, I haven't seen any bucatini in ages.
posted by rodlymight at 12:14 PM on December 28, 2020 [11 favorites]


I prefer fusilli lunghi - which has always been a borderline PITA to find locally.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:14 PM on December 28, 2020 [5 favorites]


I live in New York City and I can't remember the last time I ever saw bucatini in the market in the first place.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:14 PM on December 28, 2020 [3 favorites]


The exasperated tone of the author does somewhat undercut what's kind of an interesting investigation, the resolution of which might be entirely inconsequential.

Also:

...searching in vain for the bucatini that, in my opinion, not to be dramatic, is the only noodle worth eating; all other dry pastas might as well be firewood.

That's not how pasta works. Each shape is purpose built, for a specific sauce or method of preparation.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 12:21 PM on December 28, 2020 [23 favorites]


Do you inject the marinara into the bucatini? Can other semi-liquids be squirted into the pasta? Frosting, for instance?
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 12:24 PM on December 28, 2020 [15 favorites]


Bucatini plate for home stand mixers. Now I’m surprised it didn’t become a lockdown-cooking staple.

I really appreciated the information and action that the journalism parts of the article led to. The hyperbolic memoir stuff, which seems to be normative now, is reminding me of high-Victorian purple prose.

What I can’t find at my local groceries is Bon Ami. Anyone else? I don’t find any recommendations of it for COVID cleaning, so the particular gap is puzzling - I can still get plenty of Barkeeper’s Friend and borax, for instance.
posted by clew at 12:26 PM on December 28, 2020 [7 favorites]


The comments have a lot of folks from all over the country (including NYC) claiming that that it’s been readily available outside of the four high-end markets that the author shops at.

I guess it’s an interesting story about a journalist chasing down leads that don’t go anywhere, learning some ultimately-irrelevant history, and eventually getting a boring answer from a secondary lead that was promptly ignored [Barilla shifted production to more in-demand pasta shapes to accommodate demand, and De Cecco almost certainly did the same]

Maybe I’m being too curmudgeonly, but I genuinely can’t figure out if the writer is deliberately drumming up their lack of journalistic expertise for effect here. Like.... harassing some guy with the same last name as a pasta company??? Who does that???
posted by schmod at 12:29 PM on December 28, 2020 [10 favorites]


Also worried about journalism portrayed as the opposite of reading paragraphs with numbers in.
posted by clew at 12:32 PM on December 28, 2020 [2 favorites]


Is this parody along the lines of the Borowitz Report? Because it wasn't working for me as humor, but it was too college-humor-magazine-ish to pass for journalism.
posted by the sobsister at 12:35 PM on December 28, 2020 [9 favorites]


The comments have a lot of folks from all over the country (including NYC) claiming that that it’s been readily available outside of the four high-end markets that the author shops at.

Just as a point of reference, I'm on Long Island, and I don't think I've seen bucatini (or cavatappi, my other true pasta love) in the supermarket since the before-times. Granted, I haven't looked more than twice, since I bought as much of whatever-was-there when I could (it was penne; they are working triple-time making goddamn penne instead of good shapes).
posted by uncleozzy at 12:36 PM on December 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


I don't think I've ever had bucatini, and now I want to!

And that was funny.
posted by medusa at 12:39 PM on December 28, 2020 [3 favorites]


>That's not how pasta works. Each shape is purpose built, for a specific sauce or method of preparation.

Yeah, that's not how it works either though. Like, not even close.
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 12:40 PM on December 28, 2020 [5 favorites]


At my local grocery store, De Cecco bucatini is currently 1/3 the usual price. Coincidence? I THINK NOT
posted by medusa at 12:41 PM on December 28, 2020 [8 favorites]


The low-iron price
posted by clew at 12:45 PM on December 28, 2020 [15 favorites]


I had to do a google search to make sure that bucatina wasn't just made up for this article.
posted by octothorpe at 12:46 PM on December 28, 2020 [10 favorites]


Bucatini is the worst pasta. You try to slurp it up and instead it just hangs there and whistles.
posted by tofu_crouton at 12:47 PM on December 28, 2020 [64 favorites]


Also I would like to know more about using bucatini as a straw. Who are these people?
posted by uncleozzy at 12:47 PM on December 28, 2020 [8 favorites]


The purple prose worked for me, just because it's been such a purple year. It was a nice change to read End Of The World style for something which, for once in 2020, wasn't actually the end of the world.
posted by clawsoon at 12:48 PM on December 28, 2020 [28 favorites]


FUCKING GRAZIE BIDEN
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:50 PM on December 28, 2020 [7 favorites]


What I can’t find at my local groceries is Bon Ami.

I often couldn't find it for years before the pandemic, so I eventually gave up and switched to Barkeeper's Friend which is almost always available.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:53 PM on December 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


I also thought this was a plausible sounding but made-up pasta; I have seriously never seen or heard of it until this moment. Im expecting a breathless article about a rigattigni recipe soon, and a deep dive into the canneloidioidioidinini shortage of 2014.
posted by mhoye at 1:12 PM on December 28, 2020 [4 favorites]


Part of me can imagine myself being this reporter, because I definitely have a tendency to dive into minutiae. Then again, there is no part of me that can imagine, in December 2020, filing a FOIA request with the FDA.
posted by box at 1:21 PM on December 28, 2020 [9 favorites]


Clew, YES! What the hell happened to all the Bon Ami?!?
posted by PhineasGage at 1:25 PM on December 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


And now there's going to be another bucatini shortage.

Not at my house!
posted by TedW at 1:44 PM on December 28, 2020 [5 favorites]


I've seen brass die bucatini sold in 5 kg packages at a new Jersey costco recently.

Gustiamo is a good source for good pasta shapes.
posted by JPD at 1:46 PM on December 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


I am thrilled by the existence of fusili lunghi a.k.a fusili bucati (enormous hollow springs!) but the one time I bought it I could never figure out what it was good for. It is awesome but not terribly practical.
posted by jackbishop at 1:50 PM on December 28, 2020 [5 favorites]


Here in Rome (the home turf of modern bucatini), you're unlikely to find them used for recipes other than a serious amatriciana; if your family has Neapolitan heritage, you might choose them for a pasta al forno. (Whoever'd have you believe that bucatini were a 16th century sicilian invention, those might be traced to fusilli or ziti, at best - nothing to do with the contemporary, straw-like spaghetti-with-a-hole). Bucatini's general unwieldiness might, of course, be mitigated by choosing a mediocre brand (such as all those mentioned above, so far), so, I guess if cooked to a certain level of pliancy, you might just as well sauce them any which way...
posted by progosk at 1:55 PM on December 28, 2020 [8 favorites]


I similarly had an obsession with it for a time but then I think I read somewhere it's meant to be broken up.

I was serving it with a raw tomato pasta sauce fwiw.
posted by JPD at 1:55 PM on December 28, 2020


mitigated by choosing a mediocre brand (such as all those mentioned above, so far)

Costco was selling Faella in bulk.
posted by JPD at 1:57 PM on December 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: It is a responsive noodle.
Metafilter: You try to slurp it up and instead it just hangs there and whistles.
posted by amanda at 2:03 PM on December 28, 2020 [13 favorites]


It's kind of the opposite of angel hair

The Devil's Thatch
posted by Reyturner at 2:13 PM on December 28, 2020 [20 favorites]


I love articles delving into mysteries that are low-stakes but definitely genuine, uncovering a mixture of arcane industry practices and mundane realities. Tongue-in-cheek while totally earnest about the underlying mission.

And I love bucatini because apparently I’ve been fully on board the ‘amatriciana craze’ of the past decade without realizing I was caught up in a craze. The shortage of bucatini (and other pasta shapes) this year is definitely something I’ve noticed and commented on to friends.

The tdlr: manufactures have trimmed back their SKUs to the most popular shapes in the US as dried pasta became a hot commodity due to the pandemic. Also one particular company may be having issues with US regulators for obscure reasons. There are also rumors that people have been using bucatini as straws, but come on.

This is probably where I should also note that I’ve had trouble lately finding fire-roasted diced tomatoes.
posted by theory at 2:29 PM on December 28, 2020 [10 favorites]


I bought bucatini on accident recently, and after cooking and eating it (on purpose) found it to be extremely difficult to slurp up. It is not spaghetti.
posted by swift at 2:33 PM on December 28, 2020 [2 favorites]


Surely the bucatini cavities would fill with water when you cook them. Maybe that water gets absorbed by the pasta walls, but there's no way that a comparatively viscous pasta sauce is going to make its way inside. I mean, even the cavities in penne are usually mostly empty, and they're both shorter and wider than bucatini.

Plus, there's no way I'm going to eat something that just sits there and whistles at me.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:48 PM on December 28, 2020 [7 favorites]


Yeah, bucatini is damn near impossible to eat.
posted by bz at 2:50 PM on December 28, 2020


Sometimes the only pasta my supermarket has on sale is bucatini, and I buy it, which is stupid because I have every other pasta shape in the world and plenty bucatini (OK, I'm exaggerating, I don't have every pasta shape, but I do have a lot) and I don't need more than I have. I use it when I have very patriotic Italians for dinner and serve the very specific dishes where bucatini is the norm. In that very narrow situation, they are absolutely necessary. Don't laugh. This really happens in my life. You could in theory serve non-italian food, but they don't like that.
posted by mumimor at 2:53 PM on December 28, 2020 [15 favorites]


I'd never even heard of bucatini before like July. When I couldn't find any normal noodles like spaghetti or linguini, I got some, and... wow. What the hell.
Those are some useless noodles.
posted by rp at 2:56 PM on December 28, 2020 [3 favorites]


Bucatini is wonderful. Almost meaty when cooked right. So satisfying. Although it does not get sauce in the hole. It goes well with a variety of cheap canned sauces.
posted by kerf at 2:56 PM on December 28, 2020 [3 favorites]


Do you inject the marinara into the bucatini? Can other semi-liquids be squirted into the pasta? Frosting, for instance?

Well when you finish cooking the bucatini in the sauce, it absorbs it into the hole.
posted by entropone at 2:57 PM on December 28, 2020 [6 favorites]


Team never-heard-of-it but it sounds interesting. According to the article it’s been hyped by the foodie press for the last couple of years, so I’d imagine more people in NYC and other urban centers have been exposed to it ... i loved the bit about the anti-ramen cartel.
posted by freecellwizard at 3:00 PM on December 28, 2020 [2 favorites]


I remember a dinner party in London, ages ago, where the Danish host had bought angel hair pasta (only suitable for soups). His Italian girlfriend was so angry I was deeply worried. But she was right, the angel hair pasta was useless for the sauce she'd worked on for hours.

Texture make a difference in food. You may not care, but some people do. Some people hate fish because of texture. Others won't eat tomatoes.
posted by mumimor at 3:04 PM on December 28, 2020 [10 favorites]


I’m just getting to the part about the “National Association of Macaroni and Noodle Manufacturers of America,” and I have to pop in here to say that NAMNMA is the kind of thing that someone says when their food is especially delicious.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 3:09 PM on December 28, 2020 [24 favorites]


Bucatini are definitely about their slurpy, hefty mouthfeel more than about any sauce-absorption capacity. They’re an odd-shape-out, not a common go-to. Even for amatriciana, rigatoni, mezze maniche or even penne are equally orthodox shapes Romans will use. In Campania perciatelli only really feature in timballi or other oven-recipes... Of course, pasta’s an easy thing to put too fine a point on, but these are the bucatini basics. (That being said: buon appetito to all the concoctions folks come up with - there’s nothing more dour than orthodoxy.)
posted by progosk at 3:21 PM on December 28, 2020 [9 favorites]


As the holiest pasta, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Vatican was behind the shortage. Surly they maintain a strategic Bucatini reserve.
posted by mundo at 3:25 PM on December 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


(A personal, less-wrangly but still more-substantial-than-just-spaghetti favorite is spaghetti alla chitarra - though it’s unlikely there’s a current glut of those, I guess..)
posted by progosk at 3:29 PM on December 28, 2020 [2 favorites]


This article made me laugh a lot and then coming in here and seeing a load of people grumping about how they can buy this pasta just fine, it's not that great anyway, and she's not even a good journalist made me laugh even more.

Metafilter never fails.
posted by knapah at 3:31 PM on December 28, 2020 [48 favorites]


All a' y'all using Bon Ami and Barkeepers Friend -- you can just use baking soda. I switched when I realized it cleans and scrubs equally well. Add a little dishsoap to make a paste and it's even better. It's the best thing to use to clean your refrigerator and freezer because it won't leave any weird lingering smells. Used too much or it left a white film? Just neutralize it with vinegar: acid + base ==> salt and water.

Also this thread is so entertaining I feel I can just skip the article (it just hangs there and whistles xD )
posted by antinomia at 3:39 PM on December 28, 2020 [6 favorites]


Those speculating about the hollowness of bucatini are overthinking it a bit. The hollowness is mainly so you can have a long, narrow noodle that’s got some heft and and toothiness without being too heavy. Aside from amatriciana I also like it for cacio e pepe.
posted by theory at 3:40 PM on December 28, 2020 [4 favorites]


Metafilter never fails.

I think what I love most is the obvious menagerie of family grudges and longstanding feuds frothing just under the surface of this thread.
posted by mhoye at 3:41 PM on December 28, 2020 [19 favorites]


I use hard wheat Italian pasta for nearly all my noodle dishes; I'm just not a huge fan of rice noodles. I like some tooth, some texture; I like something that will reheat well in a soup or sauce.
At some point in 2018 ? 2017? this brand, La Molisana, began to appear in the Chicago market. It's seriously great dried pasta; most of it is bronze die, it has that toothiness that I love. We have a simple sweet-spicy chili-garlic porky noodle dish that I use the bucatini for; it stands up well and soaks up all the flavor. I just realized I haven't made that dish since we used up the last package of bucatini, and haven't seen it in the stores for about 3 months or so.
For all of you who don't like bucatini, fine-- leave it for me. Thank you.
posted by winesong at 4:12 PM on December 28, 2020 [3 favorites]


It's available at Caputos grocery in Chicago (this is what we use to make 'pastitios').
posted by marimeko at 4:15 PM on December 28, 2020 [3 favorites]


Bucatini plate for home stand mixers. Now I’m surprised it didn’t become a lockdown-cooking staple.

Yeah, those things are garbage. There is no way you can get enough pressure out of a stand mixer to make proper extruded pasta. The best you can get is some worst-of-both-worlds result that is neither proper extruded pasta nor proper laminated pasta (ask how I know!). If you want to make extruded pasta for less than $1,000, you're gonna need one of these.

Back to bucatini, I think it's an awesome pasta and we eat it frequently not only with the traditional "all'Amatriciana" condiment but with many others. I recently got an extra-thick bucatini die for my extruder that's a lot of fun.
posted by slkinsey at 4:16 PM on December 28, 2020 [5 favorites]


I can't remember the last time I saw bucatini at any of the Wal-Marts in Idaho. Not even the fancy one that has tri-color rotini.
posted by straight at 4:40 PM on December 28, 2020 [8 favorites]


I'd never heard of bucatini before March, but now I have two packets in my emergency supplies cupboard because everyone was buying pasta, so I wanted to buy pasta and bucatini was the only one left. However, I don't eat pasta, even when I'm trapped in my apartment and unable to buy groceries--I'll probably give it away once the outside world has calmed down a little.

Anyway, if you really need bucatini, you can order it from Fort Defiance in Red Hook.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:46 PM on December 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


I was rapt. This story was amazing. I came right to MeFi to post it myself and was very pleased to see it already on the blue.
posted by deadbilly at 5:02 PM on December 28, 2020 [5 favorites]


Bucatini is great for heavier sauces and adding things like meatballs. It's chewy and hearty. I like all different types of pasta though. Why eat only one kind?
posted by SoberHighland at 5:56 PM on December 28, 2020 [2 favorites]


In Campania perciatelli (is) only really featured in timballi or other oven-recipes...

Growing up in Brooklyn NY I had only ever heard of this shape referred to as perciatelli. And I don't recall anyone eating it other than sauced, like spaghetti. Then starting about 10 years ago (now living in the SF Bay Area) I started to see only references to the shape as bucatini. The wikipedia page for bucatini lists perciatelli just as another name for it.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 6:01 PM on December 28, 2020 [2 favorites]


You try to slurp it up and instead it just hangs there and whistles.

I have never heard of, much less attempt to slurp, this kind of noodle. But the visceral image that sentence conjured up in my brain is going to have me laughing all night. Thank you tofu_crouton
posted by treepour at 6:13 PM on December 28, 2020 [5 favorites]


If If you want to make extruded pasta for less than $1,000, you're gonna need one of these.

An object so lovely I long to hang it on a wall - surrounded by its elegant dies - but conveniently out of stock, so I am probably safe until the first infatuation passes.
posted by clew at 6:19 PM on December 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


Bacall: "You know how to whistle, don't you?"
Bogart: *attempts to slurp a bucatini noodle*
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:34 PM on December 28, 2020 [25 favorites]


Growing up in Brooklyn NY I had only ever heard of this shape referred to as perciatelli. And I don't recall anyone eating it other than sauced, like spaghetti.

Same. I think Ronzoni calls the shape perciatelli, and we ate it all the time with meatballs.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:40 PM on December 28, 2020


Whatever you do, don't serve bucatini to children. The one time I ate it as a child I'm pretty sure I burst into tears.
posted by waving at 8:14 PM on December 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed this article, I found it funny, and FFS people the mismatch between the tone, the journalistic approach and the content, the utter triviality, that's the point! Clearly youse can overthink a plate of pasta too.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:28 PM on December 28, 2020 [16 favorites]


So they didn’t have enough milligrams of iron. I dub this scandal “Bucatini and the MGs”
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:53 PM on December 28, 2020 [12 favorites]


An object so lovely I long to hang it on a wall - surrounded by its elegant dies - but conveniently out of stock, so I am probably safe until the first infatuation passes.

Check back and get one when they’re in stock! You won’t regret it. And the proprietors couldn’t be more lovely.
posted by slkinsey at 8:55 PM on December 28, 2020 [1 favorite]


Well I found this a fantastic read.

I asked casually if she was at all familiar with De Cecco’s bucatini shortage. “No. I’m not aware,” she said. “Have you had any FDA kerfuffles?” I asked, twirling my hair around my finger even though she could not see me because we were on the phone. “No,” she said, clarifying that Barilla pasta has always contained “adequate levels” of enrichment. “We’ve never had that issue.”

Oh-HO. You've never had the issue that the reporter did not describe to you? Barilla, j'accuse!
posted by ZaphodB at 10:00 PM on December 28, 2020 [11 favorites]


..."Thrilled by the There Will Be Blood of it all, I reached out to a legal source who asked not to be named but who has deep knowledge of the inner workings of Big Pasta. The legal source, whom I will call Luigi for fun but whose real name is very different from that, confirmed Carl’s suspicions...."

The big questions: De Niro or DiCaprio as the shadow figure behind Big Pasta? Will Rachel be played by McCarthy or McKinnon? Will filming wrap up before the bucatini crisis is... shelved?
This beats the heck out of the latest sequels/prequels/ retreads.
posted by TrishaU at 10:33 PM on December 28, 2020 [2 favorites]


NAMNMA is the kind of thing that someone says when their food is especially delicious

I was expecting the Swedish Chef
posted by clew at 10:47 PM on December 28, 2020 [2 favorites]


Am I in the twilight zone over here? You cooler-than-thou people who have somehow seen it all...am I the only person here who doesn't know wtf bucatini is and this article is literally the first time I've ever seen that word? Anyone??
posted by zardoz at 11:27 PM on December 28, 2020 [7 favorites]


Man. Now I kind of want a bucatini die for my bigolaro, but the place that has them for $90 is sold out and the place that has one left in stock wants $135 for it. I don't need to be able to make my own whistling pasta that badly.
posted by hades at 12:00 AM on December 29, 2020 [2 favorites]


If you bit it to different lengths can you make a pan flute?

with a pan sauce?
posted by clew at 12:23 AM on December 29, 2020 [11 favorites]


Growing up in Brooklyn NY I had only ever heard of this shape referred to as perciatelli. And I don't recall anyone eating it other than sauced, like spaghetti.

Same. I think Ronzoni calls the shape perciatelli, and we ate it all the time with meatballs.


Had a quick look and it turns out the most varied tradition of recipes with perciatelli (with ricotta and pomodoro, alle erbe di campo, with lumache...) is from Calabria, and the origin of meatballs on pasta is Sicily, so it’s likely that those are the food communities you grew up part of. The Roman amatriciana narrative, a proxy for a kind of “national” Italian version, has taken hold since, displacing other heritages on the foodie stage. Il mondo è bello perché è vario.
posted by progosk at 1:57 AM on December 29, 2020 [3 favorites]


Is this parody along the lines of the Borowitz Report?

I dont think this is satirical, but also I feel like this article isn't entirely just about the pasta.
posted by Lanark at 2:19 AM on December 29, 2020


Well now I want to eat bucatini, thanks...
posted by SageLeVoid at 3:54 AM on December 29, 2020 [2 favorites]


Now I finally succeeded in reading the whole article. My internet is really sketchy these days. (And yes, I commented before finishing the article, hate me).
It is hilarious, and thought-provoking. So they invented a stupid rule, demanding that pasta has to be enriched, primarily to keep out Asian noodles? Did I get this right?
And there is a "Big Pasta" who are using this stupid rule to undermine sale of de Cecco pasta? And they may even have lobbied a US representative to get the FDA to take up the case of too little iron in de Cecco bucatini in the middle of a global pandemic? Can de Cecco sue, if this is unravelled?
And somehow Alison Roman is one cause among others of the weird American obsession with bucatini? That is perhaps the most 2020 thing about the article.

Had a quick look and it turns out the most varied tradition of recipes with perciatelli (with ricotta and pomodoro, alle erbe di campo, with lumache...) is from Calabria, and the origin of meatballs on pasta is Sicily, so it’s likely that those are the food communities you grew up part of.
Ah! that makes sense, since most American-Italiens have roots in the south of Italy, there like already is a preference in that direction.

Among dried pasta shapes, I like linguine the most, and I just made a batch for lunch and for a second go at the sticking linguine mystery in ask. But most pasta have their time and place. At first I didn't like the author because of her silly and breathless preference for that one type of pasta, but I suppose if she didn't care, we wouldn't have had this article.
posted by mumimor at 4:44 AM on December 29, 2020 [4 favorites]


Another, likely irrelevant data point: At my local grocery in Sweden, Barilla bucatini is readily available in the shop.
posted by vernondalhart at 6:13 AM on December 29, 2020


I liked this article. I like bucatini. I like other pasta shapes too. Why is this so hard?
posted by slogger at 8:13 AM on December 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


You just need to let it boil a couple more minutes, slogger.
posted by straight at 9:12 AM on December 29, 2020 [14 favorites]


Papardelle > bucatini, as a general matter.
posted by mikeand1 at 9:47 AM on December 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


At my local grocery in Sweden, Barilla bucatini is readily available in the shop.
But now I wonder wether American bucatini and European bucatini are even the same thing?
posted by mumimor at 10:42 AM on December 29, 2020


I seriously did stock up on bucatini at the very start of this thing. Bucatini and dog food were my two big stockups. I have a bidet so wasn't worried about TP. While everyone else was out panic buying Angel Soft, I was clearing the shelves of bucatini and stuffing my linen closet full of Purina Pro Plan Small Breed Chicken and Rice. Priorities, man.
posted by HotToddy at 10:52 AM on December 29, 2020 [6 favorites]


I have not read the article but I choose to believe it is a cousin of the podcast, What Ever Happened to Pizza at McDonald's.
posted by latkes at 11:08 AM on December 29, 2020 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: there’s nothing more dour than orthodoxy.
posted by aspersioncast at 11:38 AM on December 29, 2020 [2 favorites]


I also like it for cacio e pepe.
posted by theory


Yes! I knew I had eaten bucatini and it was perfect for the cheesy sauce it was in, but I couldn't figure out what I had eaten.
posted by acrasis at 4:07 PM on December 29, 2020


Everything about this has entertained me deeply.
posted by zenon at 5:09 PM on December 29, 2020 [3 favorites]


I’m far removed from the food scene so I’m pleasantly surprised that high-end pasta is still a thing. Speaking from my isolated, non-foodie bubble, I would have thought the low carb and gluten-free trends decimated the sophisticated strand of the pasta industry. It’s interesting that it was the FDA (and possibly De Cecco’s competitors) that did the most damage to the company’s U.S. business this year. Who knew that “enriched macaroni product” was such a highly regulated field.

I’ve never been to Italy, but I imagine traditional pasta makers would be more incensed over garlic-deficient dishes versus low iron pasta. Iron is a very important nutrient, no doubt, and that’s one reason I personally try to eat whole grains most of the time. Then again, I’m a bit of a health-nut and I’m sure it’s beneficial to public health to have the FDA sneak in some extra iron into non-whole grain pasta.

I appreciate the author’s sense of humor. This year has been challenging no doubt and comedy is one way to cope. The “Bernstein of Bucatini” quote made me laugh as this half-serious investigation has some pieces of Bernstein and Woodward’s Pulitzer winning piece. There’s a secret unnamed source (“Luigi”), a government agency, and a plot to undermine one’s competitors.

I’ve done some of my own investigation, and I’ve learned that Bucatini is currently in-stock on Amazon. Jeff Bezos is a bit Nixon-esque , so maybe it is worth the drive to New Jersey for fancy pasta.
posted by mundo at 6:06 PM on December 29, 2020 [2 favorites]


Well, thanks to this article I'm now getting bucatini amatriciana for my birthday.
posted by Superilla at 6:53 PM on December 29, 2020 [5 favorites]


I checked my local supermarket here in Melbourne this morning: no bucatini, but one brand (San Remo, proudly announcing that its pasta is “made in Australia from Australian ingredients”) sells what it calls “tubular spaghetti”. Mmmm, tubular spaghetti.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:10 PM on December 29, 2020 [4 favorites]


decimating the sophisticated strand

tubular spaghetti


I'll take "Things that sound like a euphemism but aren't" for $1000, Alex.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:37 PM on December 29, 2020 [7 favorites]


Also "my pasta lacks iron"
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:38 PM on December 29, 2020 [4 favorites]


I hear dinner at Mike Oldfield's house always included tubular spaghetti.
posted by PhineasGage at 7:49 PM on December 29, 2020 [4 favorites]


I imagine traditional pasta makers would be more incensed over garlic-deficient dishes versus low iron pasta

Mineral content is a non-issue here, regarding pasta, actually. Attention is paid to die-type (bronze dies extrude rougher, and thus more sauce-accumulating, shapes) and wheat origin (Gragnano) or cultivar (Senatore Cappelli), with higher indicated cooking times taken as a proxy for higher wheat quality.
Also, should you make it to Italy, you’d be surprised how non-persavive an ingredient garlic actually is in most regions. That it’s become a kind of stand-in for “Italian”... kinda stinks.
posted by progosk at 7:54 AM on December 30, 2020 [5 favorites]


higher indicated cooking times taken as a proxy for higher wheat quality.

Wait, someone once said in some previous pasta thread a while back that higher-quality pasta would have a lower cooking time! This is why I have trust issues.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:14 AM on December 30, 2020 [2 favorites]


Wait, someone once said in some previous pasta thread a while back that higher-quality pasta would have a lower cooking time! This is why I have trust issues.

Well, it depends on which sort of pasta it is, and there are a lot of simplifications out there. If you are talking about dry pasta, made from durum wheat and water and made in bronze dies, you want a relatively long cook-time.
If it is pasta made with eggs, which strictly should always be fresh, but tbh good dried version exist, then the cooking time will be like three minutes. Some people imagine that egg-based pasta is always the best, but that just isn't true. I wouldn't use an egg-based pasta for a carbonara, for instance, and when others have served it to me, it has been a gooey mess. Same with the lovely spaghetti alle vongole. Because of misunderstandings, we had vongole with egg-based tagliatelle in April, and now in December, I still lament the waste of beautiful fresh shellfish.
On the other hand, a bolognese sauce is much better served with a fresh egg-pasta, or if that isn't available, a dried egg pasta will do. And so on and so on.
Even 3-minute macaroni have their time and place, if you like macaroni cheese. And all the soup pastas are quick to cook, too, though cooking time is slower in a soup.
posted by mumimor at 11:33 AM on December 30, 2020 [3 favorites]


yeah, no - the logic being: if your objective is the pasta being al dente, you're best served by a kind that will "withstand cooking" (tenere la cottura) better, so, the more, erm, durum the wheat it's made from, the better.
(As regards why tougher=better, without getting all Bourdieu about it, I'd say it goes back to tenderer wheat lending itself more easily to cheating, via added humidity making it weigh more at market than it then delivers in terms of calories/nutrition, thus elevating durum to the status of more reliable commodity.)

On edit: what mumimor sez.
posted by progosk at 11:34 AM on December 30, 2020 [1 favorite]


For pasta fresca, egg-based pasta, another factor plays into lower cooking time being premium: given that the gold standard is homemade pasta fresca, there's special regard for how thin the maker manages to draw the pasta sheets. By which token, the thinner it is, the quicker it cooks.
posted by progosk at 11:40 AM on December 30, 2020 [1 favorite]


If you aren't enriching the flour, isn't iron content going to be proportionate to ash content (within origin and cultivar, just to make it trickier!)?
posted by clew at 12:22 PM on December 30, 2020


I've been keeping this back, but I have to say it now: why would you look to your pasta for iron, when you can have lovely Fegato alla Veneziana or Crostini di Fegatini with a glass of red wine, and cover all your needs? Or, you know, some spinach.
posted by mumimor at 12:27 PM on December 30, 2020


Well I had never even heard of bucatini before, but today at my local West Indian market I spotted some packets of something labeled "macaroni/macarrón" which was definitely either bucatini or something very similar. I grabbed a packet and will try it soon, I'm definitely intrigued.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:29 PM on December 30, 2020 [1 favorite]


I did the grocery shopping today and thanks to this article I bought a box of the De Cecco bucatini so it's available in Toronto anyway. De Cecco used to be our pasta of choice but early on in the pandemic I tried another brand on a whim, Delverde, and my family likes that better so that's our go-to now but there wasn't any of their bucatini in stock, and I don't even know if Loblaws carries it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:32 PM on December 30, 2020 [1 favorite]


It's been a day and I'm still giggling at tofu_crouton's comment.
posted by mpark at 10:22 PM on December 30, 2020 [3 favorites]


Well I had never even heard of bucatini before, but today at my local West Indian market I spotted some packets of something labeled "macaroni/macarrón" which was definitely either bucatini or something very similar. I grabbed a packet and will try it soon, I'm definitely intrigued.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:29 PM on December 30 [+] [!]


You just reminded me that that was the norm here (in Denmark) when I was a kid. And in families where they didn't know much about food from foreign countries, you would get these macaroni with a mince sauce, made of onions, minced beef and ketchup. Maybe or maybe not with the sawdust cheese from the box on top. The pasta was put into cold water and cooked until very soft, so you didn't have the bounciness issue. Actually I feel a bit nostalgic for this now, but I know I won't like it if I try. (I just found my grandmother's cookbook from 1959, and I am not wrong. I did forget to to mention that the mince was cooked in margarine, and the recipe suggests you can add Worchester Sauce if you like it "spicy". No wonder that my granddad hated "makaroni")

The bucatini mystery is much more interesting than I thought it would be.
posted by mumimor at 3:19 AM on December 31, 2020 [3 favorites]


I saw these in store and impulse-bought them. So Mr. Antinomia and I are going to have a noodle whistling contest over dinner.
posted by antinomia at 12:02 PM on December 31, 2020 [6 favorites]


My wife was off to the grocery store earlier today, and I joked with her about bringing back some bucatini if she can find some. Upon her return, she said she couldn't find bucatini but did find another long pasta with a hole through it. So I looked it up: Bucatini is also known as perciatelli. If you can't find one, you might be able to find the other.
posted by emelenjr at 2:24 PM on December 31, 2020 [1 favorite]


I find it interesting that folks are slurping up pasta like they’re practicing for the day they meet a nice cocker spaniel. Can someone point me to the article on the 2020 fork shortage?
posted by zamboni at 3:50 PM on December 31, 2020 [1 favorite]


An asshole takes four thousand words to say "because hipster pasta is a pain to make and one of the suppliers got in trouble for not meeting federal food standards."
 — http://n-gate.com/hackernews/2020/12/31/0/
posted by scruss at 10:29 AM on January 1 [2 favorites]


OK, not to be that guy, but I call bullshit on this part of the story:

Around World War II, Carl explained, the established noodle industry (henceforth referred to as Big Pasta) was “upset” by the introduction of Nissin’s ramen noodles into the country, which were “completely out of spec” with what the United States then recognized as noodles — specifically because the ramen was being sold for a lower price and with what Carl called “lower standards” of nutrition.

Momofuku Ando didn't invent instant ramen until 1958.

Nissin Cup Noodle wasn't introduced into the US until 1971.

More research needed methinks.
posted by awfurby at 12:34 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Momofuku Ando didn't invent instant ramen until 1958.

Nissin Cup Noodle wasn't introduced into the US until 1971.

More research needed methinks.


Yes, that part confused me too. There was also something about what happened before and after WWII than didn't add up. Actually, the whole thing would make more sense, if there was a protectionist aspect to this, that the US regulations were about keeping Italian/European pasta out right from the start. European governments rarely mandate or encourage adding nutrients to food (with exceptions, we get iodized salt, for instance). So if you want to make import of pasta more complicated for European manufacturers, insist that they make separate productions for Europe and for the US.
But the reason this is a thing is also cultural: in Europe, if people need a nutrient, the authorities will often create something like a vaccine program. This year they are asking everyone here to get their vitamin D levels checked, and then if there is a deficiency, we will get vitamin D supplements.
And of course in many countries, including Italy, the school lunches are balanced meals where the kids get all the nutrients they need for healthy development. A cultural difference in product standards seems more likely than a big pasta conspiracy.
posted by mumimor at 2:19 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


This was a fun read, and a great piece of investigative work from someone who's not an investigative journalist.
posted by essexjan at 4:17 AM on January 2


So, I just looked up bucatini on my local supermarket's (Waitrose) website. They have it, at £1.70 for 500g, whereas normal spaghetti is 55p for 500g. My pasta of choice, linguine, is also now £1.70, which is surprising as it was always 55p (along with penne, fusilli and farfalle). Tagliatelle, which also used to be 55p, is also now £1.70.

Morrisons doesn't sell bucatini (unsurprising, it's more downmarket than Waitrose) but its linguine is 45p a pack. Sainsbury's bucatini and linguine are both £1.70, again a surprise for me because linguine has been 55p at Sainsburys for ever.

So the mystery for me is why linguine has gone up in price to match the 'fancier' pastas such as bucatini and pappardelle. I will not pay over the odds, so will switch to spaghetti instead. I can't believe that, two days after we are finally out of the EU, the price of a bag of pasta has increased 310%.

I've not tried bucatini, but as I am a philistine who likes pasta soft, not al dente, I'm not sure it'd be my thing. If I can't slurp it, twirled around a fork, and if I'd need to cut it up as I'm eating it, I might as well just buy the 55p penne instead.
posted by essexjan at 4:46 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Essexjan - the article also said that many places have reduced production of their less popular pasta shapes in response to the pandemic, so maybe the price hike is related to that.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:59 AM on January 2


Update: I went to Stop and Shop this weekend. Shelves were absolutely loaded with pasta, including garbage shapes like rotelle, but no bucatini (or percialtelli).
posted by uncleozzy at 6:06 PM on January 4


I had some of my massive bucatini stockpile for dinner tonight. Bwahaha.
posted by HotToddy at 8:30 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


In this episode, Jamie meets a nonna who makes her own macaroni. It's fascinating, I want to try it myself.
posted by mumimor at 1:25 PM on January 13


Everyone should be watching the YouTube channel Pasta Grannies for lovely little short videos of pasta mastery.
posted by PussKillian at 4:22 PM on January 13


And here is a Pasta Grannies episode showing the making of bucatini!!
posted by HotToddy at 9:48 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]


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